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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the Tour Championship

Well, it's finally here -- the final event of the FedExCup Playoffs. The Top30 players tee it up at the Tour Championship at East Lake.

FedExCup trophy

Of course, the big news this time is that the nines have been reversed. Instead of finishing on the par-3 18th, which forces the players to squint into the sun, they'll finish on the par-5 9th, in hopes of creating a little extra drama at the finish.

And just who will create that extra drama? Let me remind you who the Top5 in the rankings are, the guys who "control their own destiny" and will win both the Tour Championship and the FedExCup if they win this week:
  1. Dustin Johnson
  2. Patrick Reed
  3. Adam Scott
  4. Jason Day
  5. Paul Casey
Perhaps a little different line-up than we expected a couple months back, but all are definitely playing well.

And now that you've been reminded who the "controllers" are, here are my "5 to Watch" that I look to make things interesting:
  • It's impossible to leave Dustin Johnson off of my list. It's not just that he's playing the best golf I can remember, but he has finished in fifth place here twice in the last three years. (Remember, he took that 6-month break at the end of 2014 and didn't play.) East Lake sets up well for him and he's playing better than ever -- hard to bet against him.
  • Paul Casey hadn't been to the Tour Championship in a while until last year... and he made it count with a T5 of his own. Now he's coming off a great comeback year and two solo runner-up finishes in the last two Playoff events. Yeah, I like his chances.
  • Ryan Moore got bitten by Crooked Stick at the BMW. In fact, it's been the BMW that kept him out of the Tour Championship for a number of years now. But he's played much better this season, including a win at the John Deere.. And with a week off to compose himself and a potential Ryder Cup pick on the line, I think he'll step up and finish this season off right.
  • Matt Kuchar has the Olympic bronze medal and a T4 at Crooked Stick. Simply put, he's due.
  • And as my flier, I'm taking Roberto Castro. I know, he's only #21 so his chances to win the whole things are long. Castro hasn't been to the Playoffs, let alone the Tour Championship, since 2013. But he was T9 that year. I think he'll be running on adrenaline this week, and that makes him a threat. He can still win the Tour Championship, you know.
I left off a number of players I would have normally considered, but I think the schedule this year has taken its toll. For example, Rory's won a Playoff event but been otherwise inconsistent. Jason's back concerns me. And Jordan may be the defending champ but he seems a bit off his game to me -- not that he's playing badly, but I'd feel better if he wasn't so erratic lately.

I'm not saying that they won't contend and even win. Any of the Top30 could put up the numbers this week. I'm just saying that I'm not confident enough to pick them this time around.

And don't forget about that Ryder Cup pick, just dangling out there, waiting to be claimed by somebody. If that counts for anything, watch out for Daniel Berger and Bubba Watson.

But me, I'm going with Paul Casey to finish just one spot better this week and take it all.

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